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Veneer Plant shutting down

Veneer PlantThe Walterboro Veneer Company is shutting down after almost 50 years of local operation.

Sixty of the plant’s 70 employees were laid off last Wednesday. The rest will remain on the clock to shut down the plant, which is located at 3463 Green Pond Highway just outside of Walterboro.

Colleton County Economic Development Director Heyward Horton said Friday that he had a phone conversation with a member of the company’s Human Resource Department who confirmed the closing, adding that the company would be assisting the displaced employees.

Horton added the plant’s closing was just a matter of the country’s economy. He noted a soft housing market lessened the demand for laminated hardwood flooring, the product that the plant, along with Anderson Hardwoods, located in Clinton, produced. Both companies are owned by Shaw Industries Group, a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Hank Amundson, head of the Lowcountry Council of Governments’ Workforce Investment Office, said Friday that he and others within his office are helping to match the furloughed employees’ work skills and experience with different working environments. He added that, although it is not a good thing when any longstanding business within the community closes, the fact that two new industries, Saraflex and Crescent Milk and Beverage, are opening within our county are positive events.

“On paper, the former Veneer Company employees’ skills may not be transferable, but perhaps what they were doing at the plant will be able to help them to update and redirect their skills,” Amundson said. He added that the state’s Workforce Investment Act may also underwrite some of the training costs for the former employees should they apply at these two companies.